From College to Work: The Jump of an Electrical engineer

As you already know, we love to publish testimonies or career stories from fellow electrical engineers. Today, here’s Bernardo’s story. He tells us about his experience from college to work as an Electrical engineer which is not always easy. Enjoy and comment!

“Starting your professional life in a working site as an Electrical Engineer is mentally challenging, because you work on an environment that you are not familiar with, and you are surrounded by veterans of many areas thinking that you’re only a fresh kid straight out of college.

And they are right!

Gas Insulated Switchgear Example

Example of a Gas Insulated Switchgear

This being said I’m a part of the assembling and commissioning team of GIS (Gas Insulated Switchgear) and commissioning of AIS (Air Insulated Switchgear) in Siemens S.A Portugal.”

My team consist in three people including me and we’re the only ones that does this sort of job in Portugal so we’re constantly moving around from site to site, and occasionally going to portuguese speaking countries in Africa, like Angola and Mozambique.

Gas Insulated Switchgear Constitution

Constitution of the Gas Insulated Switchgear

Besides of being constantly moving around, the most challenging part, it is to be a new member on a team, you got to constantly put yourself out there to be remembered, and be a part of discussions to resolve problems, the responsibility that you carry on your shoulders is also a major factor in my job, you have to be constantly aware that even the smallest error can lead to delays in the project or even worse, causing the death of someone!

I’ve been in Siemens since September 2016, on my first 3 months me and my team were charged of the assembling and commissioning of a 220 kV GIS in the thermoeletrical substation of Carregado. So it was really a shock for me, I was kind of scared/excited to be a part of this huge project.

For this project we had very limited and short deadline so we had to work for like 11 hours/day for three months, well I can say that is exhausting!

HV test equipement

Example of the equipment used in the HV tests

After the assembling, the GIS takes a lot of commissioning tests, one of them is the High Voltage Test, where the equipment is injected with very high values of HV to see if the protections of the equipment and if the gas SF6 (Sulfur hexafluoride ) is correctly working as an insulator.

It turns out that we had a defect on one of the bays the problem was…someone had to be inside of the house where the GIS is assembled during a HV test.

I got to say that this was by far one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve ever had, the sound of 300 plus kV being injected in a defected equipment is somewhat infernal.
It turns out that one of the flanges of the equipment had a very small fissure and that created short circuits in the equipment, the fissure was sanded clean all over again and put to test again, this took almost 3 days of the timeline but we managed to fix the problem.

But in the end we achieved the prospected deadline, the GIS is working, and every month a new bay is putted in service, it was a success, never ever before a 220 kV GIS was ready in such a small amount of time.

One of my idols, Leonardo da Vinci said that knowledge comes through experiencing and I believe that the best way to learn something is through experiencing it and resolve the problems, with your hands, eyes and mind. Being a apart of this team makes me grow everyday as person and as a professional.


If you are fresh out of college and you are reading this I hope this reach your motivation and drive, there is always challenges in the world of engineering and facing them is very rewarding and I believe that is a very noble profession, we’re the unsung heroes, we work in the shadows to provide light to others, without us there would be no progress or comfort, be always aware of that!

Hope you like this article,

Thank you for your attention,
Bernardo Vicente.

Thanks Bernardo!

What do you think of Bernardo’s first experience from college to work? Can you tell us your own ewperience in few words? Was it easy or difficult?

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